And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 22, Number
In this issue:
When Jesus promised to build His church in Matthew 16:18, not everyone realizes what that means. We can understand that Jesus purchased the church (Acts 20:28), and we can understand about the name “church of Christ” (Romans 16:16), but beyond that we’re at a loss. Thankfully, the Bible provides several synonyms that fill in our knowledge about the church.
The Called Out Body
The term “church” is derived from the word kuriakos which means “of or belonging to the Lord.” The actual term used by Jesus and the apostles is ekklesia, which means “to call out.” Ekklesia is translated as “church” 112 times in the New Testament and as “assembly” 3 times (Acts 19:32, 39, 41). The Greeks used this word for the assembly of free citizens in a Greek city to discuss affairs of state (hence the use in Acts 19). The word is also used in the Septuagint where it refers to the “congregation” of Israel (cp. Acts 7:38; Hebrews 2:12). So the church in the New Testament simply means a “called out body of people.”
“Call” is from the verb kaleo, which means “to invite or summon.” It is used especially of the divine call to partake of the blessings of redemption. The nature of our calling has several very important facets. First, we are called by God, therefore it is a divine calling (1 Peter 5:10). Second, the agency of our calling is the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Third, we are called into the fellowship of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9). Fourth, our calling is made possible by the suffering of Christ (1 Peter 2:21). Fifth, we are called to be children of God (1 John 3:1). Sixth, we are called to be saints (Romans 1:7). Seventh, we are called to live a holy life (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Eighth, we are called out of darkness (1 Peter 2:9). Ninth, we were called that we may be worthy (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12). Tenth, we were called to perfection (Philippians 3:13-16). Eleventh, we were called to inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
The Household Of God
The church is referred to as the “house of God” which equates the church with a family (Ephesians 2:19; 3:15; 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:6).
What are the blessings of the relationship? First, we have an approach to God as our Father (Matthew 6:6-9; Ephesians 3:14). We have His fatherly provision (Romans 8:32; James 1:17; Matthew 6:8, 33-34; 7:7-11), correction (Hebrews 12:4-11), and love (1 John 3:1; Romans 8:38-39).
Because God is our Father, we are His heirs (Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29; 1 Peter 1:3-5). Second, we have Christ as our High Priest and advocate (Hebrews 4:14; 10:21; 1 John 2:1). Third, we have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us (Romans 8:14). The Spirit is the truth of God (John 16:13). We receive the Holy Spirit because we are sons. Furthermore, because we receive the Spirit, we walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).The demands of the relationship mean separating from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17-18; 7:1; 1 John 2:15-16). Christians also have to be obedient as children (Romans 8:12-17; Ephesians 5:6; 1 Peter 1:14; 1 John 3:10). We have to consider our relationship toward brethren, which is an obligation to love (1 John 4:7, 20-21; 3:13-19). Because Christians walk by the Spirit, as we saw above in Galatians 5:16, we cannot walk after the flesh (1 John 1:6-7). Finally, while some may see this as unimportant, or would willingly substitute another name, Christians should wear the family name that was given by God (Acts 4:11-12; 11:26; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:15-16). How do we enter the family relationship? First and foremost, we enter because of the gracious provision of God (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8). However, there is something that God requires of mankind. It begins with faith (Galatians 3:26-27; Hebrews 11:6). Acting on our faith includes repenting of our sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 17:30), confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:8-10), and being baptized into Christ (John 3:3-5; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27). It is baptism that washes away our sins and saves us (Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
The Vineyard Of The LordIn two parables of Jesus, the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), and the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-31), one point among many is that the kingdom of heaven is a place for work, not idleness. As we do our work in the vineyard of the Lord, we demonstrate God’s wisdom and we glorify Him (Ephesians 3:10-11, 21). In keeping with the idea of a vineyard, we bear fruit for God (John 15:8; Romans 7:4). We bear fruit in many ways: 1) Brotherly love (John 15:12); 2) caring for the poor (Romans 15:26-28); 3) demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 22-23); 4) abiding in Christ (John 15:5-7); 5) contributing to the work of the church (Philippians 4:15-17); 6) growing as a Christian (1 Peter 2:1-2); 7) “hiring” laborers into the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-9; Luke 10:2; John 4:35-38); and, 8) doing every good work (Colossians 1:10). The reward at the end of the day for workers is a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). Peter expresses the reward as “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 1:3-5). The “crown of righteousness” is also referred to as a “crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Paul wrote, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). Remember that your work in this vineyard will be called into question on the judgment day, for the ones who are unfaithful are “gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:2, 6; cp. Matthew 25:41).
The Kingdom Of GodAlthough the term “kingdom” is used a few different ways in the New Testament, its primary use is to designate God’s church as the kingdom. What evidence exists to show the connection between the church and kingdom? The kingdom was “at hand” (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:14-15). The parables of Jesus show the church as the kingdom (Matthew 13:24, 44, 45, 47). The apostles were given authority in the kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19; 18:18; 19:28). The people alive in the time of Christ witnessed the coming of the kingdom (Mark 9:1; Luke 12:31-32). After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the kingdom was spoken of as in existence (Acts 8:12; 20:25; 28:23, 31; Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:12). When we come into the church through the gospel, we receive the kingdom (Hebrews 12:22-28). When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we do it in the kingdom (Luke 22:16-18, 29-30). The church and the kingdom are the same! Furthermore, Christ is king of the kingdom. He was king by His own teaching and acknowledgement (Luke 23:1-3; John 18:37). He conquered the realm of Satan and spiritual darkness in becoming king (Matthew 12:24-29; Luke 10:17-19; 11:17-22; Hebrews 2:9, 14-15; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 1:18). He also had a territory that was wrested from Satan (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 4:5-8; Revelation 1:5-9). He had authority and a throne (Luke 1:32-33; Ephesians 1:18-23; 1 Timothy 6:15; 1 Peter 3:22). He had a law (John 1:17; 17:8; 1 Corinthians 9:21; 1 John 4:6). This law will be the basis of our judgment (John 12:48). Someone who wants to go to heaven has to do God’s will (Matthew 7:21). God demands faithfulness (Matthew 25:34-36; 2 Timothy 4:7; Revelation 2:10). One has to center their affections on heavenly realities (Philippians 3:12-15; Colossians 3:1-4). One has to be united with the saints, for a house divided against itself cannot stand (Luke 11:17). In the end, greatness in the kingdom of Christ means sacrifice and service (Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:23-31). The final picture of the kingdom of God is revealed in the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:36-43). The fate of those in the kingdom is also revealed by the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46). It is the same fate as those who do not obey the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, 10). At the end of time, Paul said the kingdom will be delivered up to God (1 Corinthians 15:22-24). (to be continued…)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Acts 28:23-31
I. DEFINING THE KINGDOM.
III. APPLICATIONS OF THESE TRUTHS.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Nothing New Under the Sun
It has been a slow news week here in America and perhaps, elsewhere. Chalk it up to the holidays. You may not have even read or viewed the news for a while.
With some sarcasm we note, “Rest assured, things have not changed much.” They say, “No news is good news.” But, there has been news this week, even if you haven’t heard it. And, it hasn’t been particularly good. The Palestinians are still shooting rockets into Israel. Israel is shooting back. China, Iran, and Russia are flexing their military muscle (so is America and others). North Korea is blustering and threatening again. Brexit hasn’t happened yet (but the Brits keep saying it will). The impeachment saga continues. The Democrat Party is debating among themselves for a candidate. An America soldier was killed in Afghanistan. And, so it goes, on and on.
Old news is news again. New names, new places, but the same old news. Solomon put it succinctly, “That which has been is what will be. That which is done is what will be done. And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’?” (Eccl. 1:9).
In like manner, sin continues to be sin. No matter how some dress up sin, it is still “a ring of gold in a swine’s snout” (Prov. 11:22). Adultery is still lust, not love (Heb. 13:4). Same-sex marriage may be contractual, but it is fornication and not marriage at all in the sight of God (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-5; Rom. 1:24-29). Lies are still wrong and deadly, not little, white, and harmless (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9). It still matters that we follow the pattern of sound words of Christ rather than the traditions of men (2 Tim. 1:13; Col. 2:8).
Solomon tries to get us to view life on earth from the proper vantage point; there is nothing new under the sun. Life without fearing God and keeping His commands fails to fulfill its fundamental purpose (Eccl. 12:13). News cycles. So does life. But, eternity is forever. Are you ready?
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 12/29/2019
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA